Beyond the Book

For Professional Scholars

The papers below lay the initial scientific groundwork on which the major theoretical project of our book, Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe, is based. Notice that this book is written for a global audience, but simultaneously carries an advanced scholarly message. Expand »

The theory we develop has extreme simplicity and great predictive power. Conflicts of interest between non-kin determine the social behavior of all animals at all times. We propose that humans are the first animals in Earth's history to gain control over these conflicts of interest, allowing the emergence of a vast, adaptively powerful new scale of social cooperation - the potentially Humane Universe. In turn, we acquired this control over conflicts of interest as a result of unprecedented access to inexpensive coercive threat - initially through the evolution of our novel ability to throw with elite skill, to project Death from a Distance. Inexpensive coercive threat makes "law enforcement" adaptively accessible. Everything uniquely human emerges as a result.

This approach apparently gives us the best theories of the human fossil record, of language evolution and of the emergence of our cognitive virtuosity we have ever had. Our theory also generalizes to the most powerful and complete theory of history we have ever possessed. Each adaptive revolution in the two million year human story results from playing the single, ancient human adaptive trick at ever larger scales - each new scale of social cooperation being enabled by the development of a new weapon allowing the domain of cost-effective law enforcement to be expanded. The behaviorally modern human revolution; the agricultural revolutions; the rise of the archaic and modern states; the modern economic miracle; and the ongoing contemporary emergence of pan-global human cooperation are all predicted, simply and transparently, by this theory.

Our theory apparently gives us the long-sought capacity to unify all the social sciences - from anthropology, linguistics and psychology through sociology, history and economics - and to join them with the natural sciences for the first time. A strong new unitary science of 'humanology' may be within our grasp. In addition to these substantial scientific/intellectual payoffs, a complete theory of human uniqueness also holds the promise of powerful new capacities for pragmatic and ethical action in pursuit of the common global human interest.

Okada, D. and P. M. Bingham (2008). Human uniqueness-self-interest and social cooperation. Journal of Theoretical Biology 253(2): 261-270.
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Bingham, P. M. (2000). Human evolution and human history: A complete theory. Evolutionary Anthropology 9(6): 248-257.
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Bingham, P. M. (1999). Human uniqueness: A general theory. Quarterly Review of Biology 74(2): 133-169.
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For Professional Teachers

Over the last seven years we have built a strong new approach around teaching the content described in Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe (also see interview video under courses). Expand »

Our approach capitalizes on the capacity of people to engage in public doubting and questioning as a tool to take permanent ownership of challenging intellectual content - rather than merely transiently memorizing items and lines. The report below is the first of a series describing the key elements of our approach and its deployment in a technically enriched online environment.

Souza, J. & Bingham, P.M. (2005). Integration of available and new technologies to raise student understanding and engagement. Journal of Educational Technology Systems 34 (2):189-198.
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Society for American Archaeology Talk

April 19th, 2011

Talk by Paul and Joanne at the Spring 2011 Society for American Archaeology meetings in Sacramento, California. This talk reviews the archaeology of coercive technology in native North America and its relationship to the evolution of social complexity and revolutionary social change. As discussed in Chapter 12 of Death from a Distance, North American archaeology is one of the richest and most important sources of data to test any theory of history and our theory is extremely powerful in the predictions it makes about what should be found by archaeologists.

NSF Evolutionary Studies Talk

April 19th, 2011

Paul and Joanne gave a lecture in the National Science Foundation funded series hosted by the Evolutionary Studies program at SUNY New Paltz on April 11, 2011. This talk is a broad introduction to the power of our fundamental theory to explain human origins, properties and history. We review the fundamental theory and its accounts of the fossil record of human emergence, the origin of the uniquely powerful human mind, and the diverse transitions of the historical record, including the behaviorally modern human revolution, the agricultural revolutions and the rise of the modern state. See webcast, with slides

Comment on Newly Released Neandertal Genome Sequence: Neandertals and Moderns – Fellow Members of a Common Humanity?

May 9th, 2010

This week’s publication of the first draft and initial analysis of the Neandertal genome sequence by a large multi-national group is of very special interest. [May 7, 2010, Science]

Our theory makes a very strong prediction about the ascendency of the behaviorally modern humans that are ancestral to all of us alive today (Chapter 11 in Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe or DfaD). Our specific claim is that the behaviorally modern human revolution was a social revolution, not a genetic revolution. One of the symptoms of this dramatic process was that the populations of our modern ancestors began to grow and expand out of Africa, thereby driving all other non-modern humans, including the Neandertals of Eurasia, to apparent extinction. Thus, our theory implies that the behaviorally modern displacement of Neandertals was unlikely to reflect some genetic superiority of our “modern” ancestors over other human groups, like Neandertals, traditionally classified as “archaic.” Continue Reading »